China: White-listing the Internet?

According to today's the Beijing News and Mingpao, The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) is preparing to white-listing the whole Internet under the pretext of proliferation of pornography on mobile devices.

The Beijing News quoted a recent meeting of the MIIT, summarized and explained the policies into 5 measures (via Danwei translation):

1. Set up a blacklist to prevent the owners of domain names found to be in violation from applying for additional domain names.

2. Tighten registration procedures to ensure that all application documents are accurate. Transfer of a domain name

3. Unregistered domain names will not be resolved:

Domestic websites are usually registered with MIIT, but because some of them were in existence before the establishment of the registration system, some websites have not registered. Many foreign domain names have not registered with MIIT. Domain-name resolution may be blocked for these websites, so access from China will be endangered. (Note: DNS hijacking of unregistered websites)

4. Suspension of DNS service to violating websites and to any other domain names in the possession of the same domain name holder.

5. Overhaul of registrars: CNNIC has already taken action against three service providers: Zhengzhou Dahuang Network Development Company, Beijing Xinnet Digital Information Technology Company, and Beijing Blinux Network Technology Company.

In the past, the website registration system targets at websites hosted in local servers, as for overseas websites, the politically sensitive ones were blocked by the Great Fire Wall (GFW – internet filter) under the blacklist system or keywords filtering. However, netizens can still get around by using proxy or TOR. If the MIIT is to white-listing the whole Internet, it will turn the Chinese Internet into intranet and cripple most of the circumventing devices.

However, it is net yet clear if the registration system will be extended to foreign websites. According to the MIIT official document on the campaign against the proliferation of pornography on mobile devices, the first stage (Nov-Dec 2009) of the white washing campaign has started with a ban on individual registration for CN domain name. The second stage, which involves what has been described in the Beijing News (strengthening of the registration without specific reference to overseas websites), will take place between Jan-Sep 2010. The final stage is between Oct – Dec 2010. Measures will involve a complete monitoring and analysis of online data flow and resources for identifying illegal and unsolicited activities.

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